A man of passion should always strive to be unique, to do those little things that makes him standout in a crowd. That said the one thing I would suggest you do not wear is a cartoon tie. You know the ones with your favorite Looney Tunes characters, Bugs and Daffy. While you may say “it is my thing” I would say it makes you look juvenile and silly (sorry). Case in point: I know many men working in the world of international consulting and on occasion I encounter a senior consultant who only wears cartoon ties–he loves Taz and Marvin the Martian (I mean who doesn’t?). Ron has some degree of influence because of his position (he has power by virtue of position, not necessarily by merit–but that is another story). As a senior consultant people will listen to him politely but as soon as he leaves the room he is considered a joke because of his ties. Ron is just not taken seriously and thus his wearing of a cartoon tie, although it is his “thing” is self-defeating. If you are doing adult and/or important works, be an adult about it. I have never seen a world leader wear a cartoon tie. Putin and his Yosemite Sam tie, Obama and his Micky Mouse tie. To misquote Coco Chanel, “wear a silly tie and they remember the tie, wear an exquisite tie and they remember the man”. It is most often that clients negatively remark about Ron’s ties. It come down to this, they do not respect him because he does not respect them. He wears silly ties and how can a client get past that? Most cannot. Luckily for Ron he works for a respected firm and he is usually just the messenger for his superiors. I am not sure but I think Alan Watts* said that we project out the way we want other people to treat us. This is also true for what you wear. Whether you like it or not what you wear is a form of communication. Project silliness and you just might get silliness back. For goodness sake, do not handicap yourself. Would you wear a cartoon tie on a first date ?(keeping in mind these commentaries are for men over 40) I would hope not. What kind of people are you hoping to attract to yourself?
Maybe we have confused uniqueness with silliness, it is sadly like the loud Hawaiian shirt. You think it looks cool, but it is not–unless you are at a luau or an old school surfer.
So being uniques/silly is not always the best way to go. This is a constant debate–unique versus conformity–but I would submit that uniqueness comes from within and is subtile. Italian tailor Luciano Barbera said, “A man must face the world with sprezzatura. It literally means detachment, but a better way to think of it is quiet confidence or low-key style. The most forceful statement is understatement.” (I certainly will explore the concept of sprezzatura more in the future.)
Back to ties: Oscar Wilde said, “A well-tied tie is the first serious step in life.” Here are some of the ties I wear and like a suit it is better to own a few nice (expensive) ties rather than a bunch of cheap ones.
* Alan Wilson Watts was a British-born philosopher, writer, and speaker, best known as an interpreter and populariser of Eastern philosophy for a Western audience.